Liam Moriarty

Environment Reporter

Liam Moriarty started with KPLU in 1996 as our freelance correspondent in the San Juan Islands. He’s been our full-time Environment Reporter since November, 2006. In between, Liam was News Director at Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Oregon for three years and reported for a variety of radio, print and web news sources in the Northwest. He's covered a wide range of environment issues, from timber, salmon and orcas to oil spills, land use and global warming. Liam is an avid sea kayaker, cyclist and martial artist.



Liam's most memorable KPLU radio moment: "Recording a musician swapping songs with killer whales from a boat in the middle of Johnstone Strait in British Columbia."

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JOHN T. WILLIAMS SHOOTING
8:26 pm
Wed February 16, 2011

Angry protesters demand justice for slain woodcarver

Anwar Peace was one of several hundred people gathered to honor John T. Williams and express their dismay that the police officer who killed him on a Seattle street last summer will not face criminal charges.
Paula Wissel KPLU News

Sage smoke, prayers and the beat of Native drums filled the air at Seattle City Hall Wednesday afternoon as several hundred people gathered to demand justice for woodcarver John T. Williams. Williams, a member of the Nuu-Chah-Nuulth First Nation in British Columbia, was shot to death last Aug. 30th by a Seattle police officer.

The demonstrators moved on to Westlake Park.  Later, several dozen marched to the crosswalk at Boren St. and Howell St. where Williams was killed by Officer Ian Birk.

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Coal Exports
10:25 am
Tue February 15, 2011

New revelations heat up Longview coal port fight

The coal export terminal would utilize the former Reynolds Aluminum smelter property in Longview, WA.
Tom Banse N3

Previously undisclosed documents are raising questions about whether the Australian company trying to build a new coal export facility in Longview has tried to snooker local officials.

According to an article in the New York Times, documents show officials at Millennium Bulk Terminals “tried to limit what state officials knew about its long-term goals during the early permitting process last year.”

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Budget battles
5:54 pm
Mon February 14, 2011

Enviro Groups Urge Higher Resource User Fees

A trail sign at Tiger Mountain in east King County. The recreational area is managed by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources.
wta.org

Lawmakers in Olympia are proposing to slash or even eliminate dozens of important programs and services, as they struggle to eliminate a nearly $5 billion budget gap.

Environmental groups are hoping to stave off what they say would be crippling budget cuts to natural resource agencies in charge of protecting water, air and forests. But with education and health care for the poor on the chopping block, they face a tough battle.

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Endangered Species
5:44 am
Mon February 14, 2011

Endangered whales need endangered salmon

LA Times

We’ve known for a long time that killer whales eat salmon. But new findings suggest that local orcas rely on salmon – specifically, adult Chinook salmon – more than previously thought. So now fisheries managers are having to ask themselves: What happens when endangered whales depend on endangered fish?

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Death in the Line of Duty
5:51 pm
Tue February 8, 2011

Murdered corrections officer remembered for courage, commitment and compassion

An honor guard stands before the flag-draped casket bearing the body of Corrections Officer Jayme Lee Biendl during a memorial service held Tuesday at Comcast Arena in Everett. Biendl's family sits in the front row.
Liam Moriarty KPLU News

Several thousand mourners, many of them uniformed law  enforcement officers, gathered in Everett Tuesday to pay tribute to Corrections Officer Jayme Biendl.

Biendl was killed January 29th while on duty at the state prison in Monroe. She was the first corrections officer killed in a Washington prison in over 30 years.

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Reflections on the Water
8:07 am
Tue February 8, 2011

Growing an octopus' garden: Ken Kirkby helps bring back the kelp

Ken Kirkby heads the Nile Creek Enhancement Society in Bowser, B.C., on the east side of Vancouver Island.
Liam Moriarty KPLU

Human activity has taken a heavy toll on the Salish Sea. And efforts are underway across the region to restore depleted stocks of everything from salmon to eelgrass.

This week, as part of our series “Reflections on the Water,” KPLU environment reporter Liam Moriarty visits a project in the little town of Bowser, British Columbia. He sits on a beach with Ken Kirkby, who heads an innovative community nonprofit that’s been restoring a crucial type of habitat : underwater forests of bull kelp. 

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Climate change
11:17 am
Thu February 3, 2011

State takes baby steps on climate change in agreement with B.C.

Bellingham Bay and Mt. Baker, as seen from Gooseberry Point, in Nov. 2008. Climate change is predicted to raise sea levels by as much as three feet by century's end. A new effort between Washington and British Columbia takes on climate change.
electronavalanche Flickr

Washington’s neighbors to the north (British Columbia) and to the south (California) are gearing up to launch a regional carbon cap-and-trade system next year. It’s the centerpiece of the Western Climate Initiative, a regional effort to tackle global warming.

In Olympia, however, environment officials are rolling out more modest climate measures.

For example: a pair of agreements signed Wednesday (with much fanfare) between the state and B.C.  

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Public Lands
8:44 am
Tue February 1, 2011

Say goodbye to free park access

Lime Kiln State Park on San Juan Island.
Jeff Maurone Flickr

Wanna use state parks and other recreational lands this summer? Under a new proposal, you’ll have to cough up a $30 annual fee.

Democratic Senator Kevin Ranker of Friday Harbor is sponsor of Senate Bill 5622. The measure would raise money for state parks, as well as the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, at a time when the state’s budget crisis is forcing lawmakers to close a massive budget gap.

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Waste and recycling
5:47 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

Green merit badge? Recycling just isn’t good enough anymore

CleanScapes garbage trucks dump out about three tons of trash, recyclables and yard waste at a Seattle transfer station. It represents the waste a typical Seattle family of four throws away each year.
Liam Moriarty KPLU News


Sure, like most Northwesterners, you recycle like a demon. Cans, glass, plastic, yard waste. You even compost your kitchen scraps. You’re a regular environmental hero.


Or maybe not ...

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Derelict Vessels
12:10 pm
Mon January 31, 2011

That sinking feeling: Cleaning up abandoned boats

This adandoned boat sank in the Duwamish River in Tukwila about two months ago. DNR says the city is going through the required process of trying to notify the boat's owner. If the owner doesn't deal with the boat by mid-February, the city will take over.
Liam Moriarty KPLU News

So, you live near a marina -- or a river or lake -- and you notice that an old, possibly-abandoned boat is sinking.

Who you gonna call?

Your first thought might be to notify the local police or fire department. Bryan Flint says that might work, or it might not.

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Environment
5:06 am
Thu January 27, 2011

Obama's salmon quip: Is salmon management a joke?

NPR asked listeners to describe President Obama's State of the Union speech in three words. More than 4,000 responded. NPR ran the responses through a word cloud generator and this is what came out.
NPR.org

In President Obama’s State of the Union speech, he got the biggest laugh of the night when – to illustrate the need to simplify government – he made a crack about salmon management.

"The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in saltwater ... I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked."

See it here, along with a shot of Commerce Secretary (and former Washington Governor) Gary Locke trying to be a good sport.

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Water Quality
12:03 pm
Mon January 24, 2011

Marine “dead zones” detailed in interactive online map

This screen shot is from a new interactive online map that shows some of the nearly two dozen marine areas in Washington that experience low oxygen from nutrient pollution.
World Resources Institute

Growing populations and increasing pollution are contributing to more and more “dead zones” in bays and oceans around the world.

Now there’s an interactive online map pinpointing more than 760 spots across the globe—including 22 in Washington – that either are dead zones or are in danger of becoming one.

What’s a “dead zone?”

It happens when excess nutrients in the water help trigger an algae bloom. Mindy Selman explains that when all the algae die, they sink to the bottom.

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Puget Sound Pollution
7:27 am
Thu January 20, 2011

Stormwater runoff: A flood of crud

Heavy rains often wash curbside trash into storm drains and eventually into Puget Sound.
Liam Moriarty KPLU News

We’re still dealing with landslides and flooding from the heavy rains brought by last week’s Pineapple Express storms. But the downpour also washed a flood of gunk and junk off of the region’s streets, sidewalks and parking lots, into more than 4,500 storm drains and right into Puget Sound.

Storm drains usually empty underwater, so nobody sees the flood of crud that pours into rivers and bays across the region.

Well, almost no one ...

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Timber Theft
12:32 pm
Wed January 19, 2011

DNR nabs timber thieves on state land in Lewis County

The men who illegally cut this alder log in Lewis County were arrested by DNR Law Enforcement officers who had staked out the area. This and another log had been stripped of bark and cut into 10-foot lengths for sale to a wholesale wood dealer.
Courtesy DNR

State enforcement officers from the Department of Natural Resources have arrested two men for illegally cutting down large alder trees on state property.

The DNR blog Ear to the Ground reports that:

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Oil Spill Response
12:02 pm
Tue January 18, 2011

Is Washington ready to handle The Big Spill?

A boat with an oil boom tries to contain oil spilled from the explosion and collapse of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.
AP

Some lawmakers in Olympia say “no.” They’re proposing a bill that would make the oil industry pay for a variety of precautions designed to protect Washington’s shorelines from an Exxon Valdez or Deepwater Horizon disaster.

(I wrote about the state of Washington's oil spill prevention and response while the Gulf spill was ongoing last spring ...)

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